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UNDP launches Accelerator Lab in India

Preeti Mehra New Delhi | Updated on November 29, 2019 Published on November 29, 2019

India outfit will join global peers to speed up sustainable development goals

‘Speed up and scale up development’ is the new prescription. The thinking is that this will make the world progress faster towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN with 2030 as the deadline.

To achieve the challenging goals within the stipulated timeframe, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday launched the India chapter of its new initiative, Accelerator Labs, for which it is partnering with Germany and Qatar.

60 global labs

The Indian lab will be among the 60 global ones that will find, test and try to scale up innovative solutions that can help combat both climate change and social inequity.

“So much is happening in India and other countries in this field…There are so many unsung heroes. Our endeavour is to help leverage the work that is taking place,” Nadia Rasheed, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in India, told BusinessLine.

The Indian Accelerator Lab team’s philosophy is to ‘work out loud’, or share the issues that it is tackling so that other labs and experts around the world can collaborate or offer tested solutions. These, if found suitable, can be customised and scaled up.

Tackling air pollution

It cites the example of acute air pollution in Indian cities compounded by stubble burning. The young team found that its Ukraine counterpart had already been working on the problem and that it was part of experiments taking place on conservation agriculture in six villages in Punjab. The India Lab can now join hands.

The team has found two other technology-based solutions for air pollution — one developed by Nottingham University, UK, and another by a start-up in Singapore. “The idea is to attack the problem from multiple angles,” explained Rasheed.

Accelerator Labs is partnering with the NITI Aayog for its India chapter. At the launch, R Ramanan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, and Additional Secretary, NITI Aayog, said he found it a “much-needed initiative that will greatly benefit innovators to find, develop and refine solutions to today’s development challenges.”

The launch in Delhi saw the coming together of inventors, micro-entrepreneurs and grassroots innovators with policymakers, scientists, experts from civil society and those who invest in new ideas from the private sector. In short, anyone who can take forward an innovative idea that is designed to make a difference in achieving SDGs.

Modern solutions

“The speed and complexity of today’s challenges are different from previous eras. We need an equally sophisticated range of development solutions to tackle these complex problems. The India Accelerator Lab is keen to work with partners on innovative solutions to some of India’s most pressing challenges, such as air pollution, sustainable water management and climate-resilient livelihoods,” said Shoko Noda, UNDP India Resident Representative.

In addition to partnerships with Germany and Qatar, UNDP has created partnerships with Italy’s Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Protection, Nesta, MIT and India-based Honeybee Network. The partnership with Honeybee is aimed at developing innovative solutions from the grassroots, for the grassroots.

Till now, the Accelerator Labs have attracted over $70 million — $33 million from Germany, $20 million from Qatar, $5.5 million from Italy, and $20 million from UNDP core partners.

Published on November 29, 2019
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